Working with your internal dialogue (not against it)
We all have a cast of characters that run around in our mind, the voice dialogue that races around when we can’t sleep or they tell us what we should and shouldn’t do. The more common names for this is Internal Dialogue or Voice Dialogue.
Most people just think that there is only one voice and that it’s themselves talking – well I don’t think that is completely true, or at least, I feel there is a more productive way to interact with it and importantly, not to believe it so much, because in my experience it’s not very useful to believe them! Understanding voice dialogue and how the voices in our mind limit us and control our feelings is a major aspect towards gaining more self awareness and emotional control.
Within that internal dialogue there are a whole range of metaphorical characters, all sorts of aspects of our self interacting with each other, and although they go by many names the two big characters that seem to always be present are the judge and the victim.
The judge is very dominant and critical, is always putting us down, putting someone else down or raising them up, “they are better than me – I can’t do it as well as them – I am better than her.” Then the victim part just accepts everything the judge says as true “Yes, they are better than me – You are right, I will never be able to do that.” And these negative (yet often false) agreements tend to fire off feelings and emotions that are not so good and certainly hold us back from the actions that might take us forward in our lives.
And if you can see that we do have these two characters in our mind, how many more could there be? Well, I think there are quite a lot, and just because we hear them it doesn’t mean that what they say is true.
Quieten your racing mind
Let me give you an example of how these voices might work – Imagine you are driving around a shopping centre car park looking for a parking space and after about ten minutes you see a gap, you indicate and drive for the gap and someone else quickly drives into the space!
There is a character that fires off in your mind and says “that was my space – they took MY space” and this is the part that feels the world owes it something, that it has a right to things going her way. Then the judge character pipes up and says “they shouldn’t have done that.” Which leads to the victim voicing her opinion “that ALWAYS happens to me, why me, what have I ever done to them?” Which in turn, wakes up another character in our mind who wants some form of retribution “they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with that – I’ll show them…”
Around and around these voices go, and it all happens in a fraction of a second and generates a whole range of emotions within us, from frustration right through to anger via self doubt and with a fair size portion of not feeling good enough.
When I am doing change work with my clients I teach them to recognise who these characters are and the unproductive games they are playing in their minds, it doesn’t take long before my clients realise that these voices are not them, they are coming from within, but they are not who they are. If I were to use an I.T. analogy, if the person was a computer, then the voices are the software, but the software is not the computer – and the software can be reprogrammed or new routines can be installed.
Just this realisation alone – that we are not those voices, is a huge step forward in self awareness and personal growth, yet those voices are unconsciously responsible for many of our emotions and they really do need to be addressed especially if one of your goals is to feel calm and in control on the inside.
I teach people to realise who these characters are, what they do, when they show up and how to not necessarily believe them anymore, as so often, they hold us back. It’s a fascinating subject and it takes a week or two to get the awareness within to catch ourselves and say “I saw that – that was my judge making that comment – not me, how interesting.”
Because when you can do this it opens up a whole new world of opportunities through boosting your own confidence and self esteem.